The first thing a new user of a tablesaw should learn is that safety has to be taught. If you rely on instinct, you’ll of course be careful and wary, which unfortunately isn’t enough. By learning a few simple techniques, your tablesaw safety will rise exponentially, while your anxiety level will drop to almost nothing.
Tablesaw safety should be explained the first time you begin to use one, but this isn’t usually the case. Sometimes you are alone with your new machine, and there’s nothing but a manual to tell you a few safety precautions. Other times, you get a few tips from a gung ho carpenter who himself doen’t have good safety habits, and possibly, you may even be told that using objects to move your wood through the saw is for sissys. BAD BAD advice.
Here’s an example of the bias against tablesaw safety: I once brought in a new tablesaw safety pushstick to a woodworking shop that had about 20 woodworkers doing various skills for a multi million dollar home in Medford, OR. Now these were mostly guys with over 10 years experience, and even one with 28 years of high end stair building. NONE of these woodworking would even touch the pushstick at first. It was almost a week of it sitting next to the tablesaw before a couple guys started using it. It took a full month before the majority used it and found it far better than what they were used to. The point is, breaking the mental habits of safety is not an obvious thing. So learn quickly that tablesaw safety is a priority.
Today (2009) tools have increased in quality as well as engineering, and this goes for tablesaw safety tools as well. The main safety tool used for ripping wood is called a pushstick. The normal design of a push stick is a long stick with a notch on the end to grab the wood to push it past the saw blade. Though this is better than nothing, it is actually the worst design.
The newly engineered pushstick actually sits on the wood preventing not only kickback (the board being thrown back) but also kickup (the board being lifted by the back side of the blade). This modern push stick will also have a pin that projects down out of the bottom of the tool to grab the board and push the wood past the saw blade. This pin should also be retractable so that the tool can sit flat on a long board until you reach the end at which point the pin slides down and grabs the end of the wood.
Modern tablesaw safety is simple and necessary. Learning up to date safety methods will increase your safety skills and greatly reduce your anxiety level. To do this, you need to know that safety engineering has been highly upgraded the last few years. To learn more about tablesaw safety, go to http://www.tablesawpushstick.com.